Roland JD-Xi Review

This article will provide you with all the necessary information about the Roland JD-Xi. If you are interested in buying the Roland JD-Xi or you just want to know more about the synthesizer, you should keep on reading.

If you like this article and found the provided information useful, you might want to check out our other reviews at AalbergAudio.com

Price

The Roland JD-Xi is a well-made and affordable synthesizer. The prices can vary depending on the website you are buying it from, but mainly it stays between 400 and 800 euros.

Product Description

Tiny, mighty, and affordable, the JD-Xi puts a true analog synth engine, Roland’s famous SuperNATURAL synth sounds, and many other creative tools under one hood. Equipped with 37 mini keys, this compact instrument delivers fat, warm analog bass and lead tones with ample controls for hands-on tweaking, plus polyphonic PCM essentials like pads, strings, brass, and more. Create impressive loops in a flash with the pattern sequencer and built-in drum kits, and explore expressive vocal textures with the gooseneck mic, Vocoder, and AutoPitch. Small in size and large in versatility, the JD-Xi is all about big sounds and big fun! 

Pros 

  • The real analogue monosynth sounds great, whilst the SuperNatural engine is deep and extremely versatile. 
  • The four-part onboard sequencer is an inspiring live and studio tool. 
  • The vocoder and effects, plus audio interface capability round things off nicely.
  • Huge quantity of high-grade sounds and attributes in a tiny footprint
  • The hybrid design possesses extreme flexibility including genuine analog monophonic synthesizer segment and 2 polyphonic digital segments besides drum machine
  • A joy to play with superb sounds
  • Awesome value
  • The four-portion onboard sequencer is an inspiring live and studio gadget
  • The vocoder and effects along with audio interface capability sum up things nicely

Cons

  • You can’t route digital parts through the analogue filter. This much functionality means a fair amount of menu diving.
  • A little amount of menu-diving becomes necessary to maximize synth’s effectiveness
  • Effects sends include simply global vocoder deactivates the analog synthesizer section
  • Small keys seem clumsy to experienced keyboardists
  • Limited editing capacities
  • Manual is absent
  • Master volume is absent for drum synth
  • Digital parts can’t be routed through the analog filter

Is Roland JD-XI Worth it?

The features of the Roland JD-XI including versatility and sound quality are unmatched at this price range. Its strength rests in its Supernatural synth engine and its extremely malleable drums. To sum up, the Roland JD-XI is an affordable, well-realized mix of synthesis, drums and sequencer. Though not amongst the most sturdy instruments, it’s a greatly portable groovebox loaded with sounds you’ll always enjoy playing or recording with.

In-Depth Review of the above articles

Benefits of Roland JD-XI:

  • Analog synth section delivers genuine lead and bass tones
  • 2 digital synth segments with SuperNatural synth tones and 128 voice complete polyphony
  • Gooseneck mic for access to Vocoder, AutoPitch, and various vocal effects
  • 4 track pattern sequencer for composing loops
  • Pro Drum kits for high-impact beats
  • 4 simultaneous effects for sound-forming USB for audio/MIDI communication with computer music application
  • Contains a large assortment of readily playable sounds and patterns
  • Roland’s Axial site enables you to download extra sounds

Specifications of Roland JD-XI:

  • Analog synth section provides authentic lead and bass tones
  • 2 digital synth sections with SuperNATURAL synth tones and 128-voice total polyphony
  • Gooseneck mic for access to Vocoder, AutoPitch, and other vocal effects
  • 4-track pattern sequencer for building loops
  • Pro Drum kits for high-impact beats
  • 4 simultaneous effects for sound-shaping
  • USB for audio/MIDI communication with computer music software
  • Includes a large selection of ready-to-play sounds and patterns
  • Roland’s Axial site lets you download additional sounds
  • Sound Engine Type(s) Analog/Digital Crossover
  • Number of Keys 37
  • Other Controllers Pitchbend, Mod Wheel
  • Polyphony 128 Voices
  • Number of Effects 19
  • Effects Types Distortion, Fuzz, Compressor, Bit Crusher, Flanger, Phaser, Ring Mod, Slicer, Delay, Reverb, Vocoder, Auto Pitch, Auto Note
  • MIDI Sequencer 4-track
  • USB 1 x Type B
  • Audio Inputs 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4″
  • Audio Outputs 2 x 1/4″, 1 x Headphones)
  • MIDI I/O In/Out/USB
  • Height 3.375″
  • Width 22.6875″
  • Depth 9.6875″
  • Weight 4.85 lbs.

Quality of Roland JD-XI

The vast majority of synthesizers I come across have no issues in regards to their UI. In fact, the opposite is usually true; modern synthesizers are generally very simplistic in their designs and practicality is at a premium. The menu interface on this particular keyboard could be better and the LCD screen is quite small. I know, it couldn’t be much bigger given this is a small synthesizer and not something like the Yamaha Montage 8, which is obviously an 88-key synthesizer. There is no way that Roland could have made the screen (much) bigger, but the layout could have been more clutter-free, and the buttons could have been designed to each serve multiple purposes in order to free up real estate on the board. At the same time, I would have preferred a few more buttons and knobs for direct feature/properties control. I guess you can’t have it all.

The style is what you would expect from a synthesizer of this size. It is not anything fancy but it remains good-looking and feels great to the touch. The vocoder does stand out a little bit and makes the aesthetic appeal of the keyboard go down, but it’s really nothing to complain about. If you’re used to playing on something larger, perhaps a 61-key keyboard then the mini-keys will likely take some getting used to. The keyboard is very lightweight and portable though so transportation should be a breeze.

Additional Features of Roland JD-XI:

Again, it is essential that we keep in mind what this instrument really is; a mini synthesizer. It’s not a totally professional full-size 88-key keyboard. It’s not so simple that it’s the perfect beginner synthesizer, but it is relatively simple and easy to use. It has more features and capabilities than many average-level synthesizer keyboards. These are some of the things you get when you purchase the Roland JD-Xi synthesizer:

  • Warm and rich analog soundsCrytal clear digital timbresVocoder and effectsEasy programming
  • Premium vocoder
  • Tons of awesome presets
  • The JD-Xi comes with a 4 part sequencer that includes 1 drum track, 1 analog synth track, and 2 digital synth tracks.

Now the sound engine(s) The JD-Xi is a four-part multitimbral – two digital parts, a drum part and a monophonic analog part all outputting/receiving on separate MIDI channels (1, 2, 10 and 3 respectively) and each part has a corresponding sequencer track. There are 256 digital presets, 64 analog presets and 32 drum kits onboard with 256 user spaces.

Warranty of Roland JD-XI

Warranty coverage is provided by the Roland distributor in the country where the product was purchased. 

Who Is Roland JD-XI Best For?

As a versatile instrument, the Roland JD-Xi is best used in studio settings, or to make music on the move. It is compatible with users more experienced in the synthesizer industry, but is also a well rounded instrument for beginners to begin experimenting with new sounds, ideas and music. 

What Do People Say About Roland JD-XI?

YouTube Review #1 

The new interactive chord feature that came with firmware V1.5 can really open up a world of musical possibilities. This video shows how you can use this feature with external gear and make your one-shot performances easier! You can transpose your sequences based on the root note of chords – not only the 4 parts of the JD-Xi internal sequencer – but also external gear!

I’m using Roland JD-XI, Roland MX-1, Roland TR-8, Korg Minilogue, Korg Electribe ER-1, Waldorf Streichfett, Strymon BigSky, EHX Small Stone, Lexicon MX-200. Recorded directly onto the camera’s audio input.

There is another video that shows me jamming with the same gear – but also I’ve added the new Roland System-8 – be sure to check it out. 

Youtube Review #2 – 

The Roland JD-Xi Analog Digital Crossover Synthesizer is a powerful compact synth with an onboard pattern sequencer and vocal effects.

Tiny, mighty, and affordable, the JD-Xi puts a true analog synth engine, Roland’s famous SuperNATURAL synth sounds, and many other creative tools under one hood. Equipped with 37 mini keys, this compact instrument delivers fat, warm analog bass and lead tones with ample controls for hands-on tweaking, plus polyphonic PCM essentials like pads, strings, brass, and more. Create impressive loops in a flash with the pattern sequencer and built-in drum kits, and explore expressive vocal textures with the gooseneck mic, Vocoder, and AutoPitch. Small in size and large in versatility, the JD-Xi is all about big sounds and big fun! 

Amazon Reviews #1

“The sounds are pretty good and it can do quite a few nice things, but I just don’t find myself using it that much.

I think it comes down to the workflow. I got this because it can sequence polyphony, which it does just fine, but after using an Electribe for a while, I’m just spoiled with how easy it is to work with.

The tiny keys are also pretty annoying, this might not bother other people as much, but it bothers me more than I would have expected.

I’m not the biggest fan of the menus, although some of that is probably just getting to know the device. But a big problem with them is that the screen refresh is a lot slower than you might expect. Like if you’re looking for a specific sound, on most hardware I’ve used the screen refresh as fast as your eyes can read it, so you can cruise through a menu with the scroll knob and see each item. With the JD-Xi, however, you have to move the knob and wait a quarter of a second or whatever before the screen becomes legible. It doesn’t sound like much, but can be pretty frustrating when you know what you’re looking for and just want to get to it already.

Honestly, I kind of wish I had a module version of this unit. I feel like if this was laid out without the keys and with a couple more buttons for specific tasks it would ease up some of the menu difficulty.”

Amazon Reviews #2

“Incredible synth at this price! I absolutely love this device as I am a newbie and this thing does so much! It’s a bit overwhelming for a beginner at first so I highly recommend watching all the YouTube videos from Roland and other pros to help get acquainted with all the features. One of my favorite instruments ever! Once I master this I may graduate to the JDXA which looks pretty impressive! The sounds of the JDXi on my QVC PA are amazing. This little synth makes some stadium-size sounds, and the possibilities are endless with all the customization and add ons!”

The Verdict: Is Roland JD-XI Worth It?

When we put together everything the Roland JD-Xi gives us we essentially get a complete workstation, analog/digital synth, with oscillators and effects, an arpeggiator, and a vocoder… and a large sound bank… and step sequencer. Yep we get just about every tool an electronic musician could want. This makes the Roland JD-Xi the perfect starter kit for an aspiring electronic musical. That being said, a professional musical looking to add that amazing new synth to their meticulously crafted studio might want to set their sights on the XA, there is little the Xi does better than your DAW or other controllers, it just simply does everything you need to get a party started in seconds and keep it going.

If you like this article and found the provided information useful, you might want to check out our other reviews at AalbergAudio.com